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New York Islanders Fans Brace Yourselves: Rick DiPietro is Back

UNIONDALE, NY - JANUARY 26:  Goalie Rick DiPietro #39 and Zenon Konopka #28 of the New York Islanders defend the net as the puck flies off the stick of DiPietro on a scoring attempt by Tuomo Ruutu #15 of the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period of an NHL hockey game at the Nassau Coliseum on January 26, 2011 in Uniondale, New York.  The Hurricanes won 4-2. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images
Daniel FriedmanCorrespondent IMarch 16, 2011

If there's anything we've grown accustomed to, it's that there's never a dull moment in Islander Country.

This morning started like any other, right?

We woke up, ate breakfast, sat through traffic jams on all different highways, basically going about our daily business.

Then, suddenly and without warning, it happened. Coffee cups were suspended in mid-air, arms flailing and mouths open wide in disbelief, as we collectively learned that Rick DiPietro was being activated from IR.

It's one of those things that, no matter how hard you try to ignore it, still manages to stare you right in the face.

Suffice to say, a considerable percentage of Islander rooters secretly hoped that DP wouldn't be seeing an ice rink for the rest of the season.

However, now that he has indeed returned, the fans are left with that all-to familiar "oh no, not again" feeling.

Don't get me wrong, I'd take Rick DiPietro over Nathan Lawson any day. What worries me is that Charles Wang did not sign Ricky to a 15-year contract for him to be the longest-tenured backup goaltender in franchise history.

DiPietro is coming back for the starting job—a position currently occupied by one Al Montoya, and justifiably so.

The Islanders have won some big games behind Montoya, and he has clearly emerged as the team's go-to netminder late in this 2010-2011 NHL season.

Simply put, the last thing the Isles need is a monumental collapse, and with Rick DiPietro between the pipes, anything is possible.

My take is as follows: If DP wants the starting role, good for him. He'll have to earn it.

It's not like it's between him and Joel Martin (Islanders ECHL affiliate starting goaltender). He's up against a red-hot goalie who has earned the respect of his teammates and coaches.

A player's price tag should not be the determining factor here. The better player should play, and if Rick DiPietro gets back to All-Star form and becomes the better goaltender, then by all means, he should start.

Until then, Al Montoya should absolutely be the starter, and I honestly hope that Charles Wang, Garth Snow and the coaches understand that.

 

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